Friday, December 16, 2011

What to do with all that left over wrapping paper, bows, and ribbon?

It's the afternoon of Christmas and it looks like your tree threw up everywhere.  You have piles and piles of wrapping paper, bows and ribbon everywhere.  But what to do with it.  You know it's wasteful to toss it but what do to with it.  Well I have some ideas, here they are.

  • You can make paper bows with them for next year and save yourself some money in the process.  Win Win. 
  • You can use them to make some paper ornaments for your tree next year, or for gifts for next year and have a real big head start.  Also it would make a great reminder of the years that past like a yearly ornament.
  • I posted earlier about keeping your children writing this winter break and making thank you cards.  Think how cute it would be for your friends and family to get thank you cards made with some of the wrapping paper that their gift came it.  And knowing your child made it.  
  • You can use it to make garlands, you know those paper chains.  For next year for the tree or decorations.  You can make them during the break with your children and put them up in a box or flatten and save the paper for next year and start making the chains after Thanksgiving.
  • You can reuse the left over bows and ribbons on other gifts in the upcoming year as well.
  • You can use the smaller pieces of paper to make gift tags for next year or when ever. 
  • You can shred it or just wad it up and use it for packing materials.
  • Use it to make Christmas cards for next year.
  • Use it in your scrapbooking with your holiday pictures.
  • Use it for stuffing for your purses, hats, shoes and boots and anything like that.  It will help them hold their shape while in storage.
  • You can use them to make Origami a great craft to do with kids.  
  • Use the back side as scrap paper by the phones and on the desks.
  • Use it to line drawers and shelves for the year.
  • You can use the wrapping paper with decoupage, from boxes (think shoe boxes) to anything wood like ornaments.
  • You can use them to mat your holiday photos.
  • Use time to line the envelopes for your Christmas cards for that extra special touch. 
  • Use it to make clothes for a paper doll. Dolland clothes templates 
  • Frame a nice piece and you have decoration for next here.  Find some great subway art to add to it.  Makes a great gift as well.
  • You can use it to make book marks for your favorite holiday books.     
  • Cover your holiday storage boxes with it.
  • You can use it as book covers use the white side and it can be used year round and kids can draw on it
  • You can use it as a liner in the kitty box or any other critter cage
  • You can make place mats with it.  Attach it to cardboard and then laminate it. This would be a great craft to do with the kids.
  • You can make coasters, you can use the same process as for the place mats or you can decoupage it to coaster size wood titles and seal it.  Same with normal tiles from the hard ware store.  This idea but with wrapping paper.    
  • Use it to decorate picture frames, a great way to make the ones from the dollar store look nice
  • Use it as filler in gift boxes and gift bags
  • You can make magnets with it,  attach the wrapping paper to cardstock or a light weight card board and laminate it, then attach a magnet to the back.
  • Make a festive bulletin board, take wrapping paper and cover cork board.
  • Make paper jewelry.
  • Use it to make Sculptures.
  • Make paper with it.  For a how to video click here         
This list is a great starting off point, please be inspired and have fun.  And if you come up with an idea share it please.  I would love to see anything that you make with your left over wrapping paper.  It will be nice not to toss such pretty paper.

Merry Christmas! Merry Yule! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!

Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety Tips

This holiday season I want everyone safe and sound so they can enjoy there Holiday.  I have a few tips that I have picked up on over the years and around the web.

  • Check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector and make sure they are working.
  • Make sure any holiday guest know what to do in case of a fire and where to meet up.
  • Make sure your holiday guests know where the fire extinguisher is and make sure you have one or two just in case you need them.
  • If you have a fresh Christmas/Holiday tree make sure you water it daily the needles shouldn't fall off when it's touched.  A well water tree doesn't burn as well as a dry tree.
  • Keep you tree and other flammables 3 feet away from heating vent, fire places, and space heaters.
  • Use Candles with care, Never leave them unattended, in the reach of pets or animals.  Always blow them out when you go to sleep and leave the house.  
  • Keep Candles 12 inches away from any flammable and place them on/in holders that are sturdy and large enough to hold all the melted wax.
  • Maintain your Chimney to prevent fires, if you haven't done so already for the winter now would be a great time to do so.
  • DO NOT drink and drive, DO NOT get in the car and let someone drive that has been drinking.  You can always pick up your car later.
  • DO NOT text and drive, it can wait.  If it can't pull over into a parking let and send the text
  • DO NOT talk on the cell phone and drive unless you have a hands free device.  It can wait if it can't and you don't have a hands free device pull over and make the call.  
  • Have kit in your car in case of an accident or bad weather and your stuck in your car.  Have bottle water, flashlights, blankets in the car, food and a first aid kit to include flares or other reflective items.  Make sure you have enough for a couple of days and everyone in your car.
  • Leave early and don't speed I know this is common sense but it's ok to be late if you get there in one piece.
  • Don't leave your car running in the garage because you want to prevent CO (carbon monoxide poisoning) 
  • Dress in layers if it's cold out.
  • Never Ever put your child in a car seat with the jacket on.  Take it off and buckle them in them put the coat on them backwards or a car seat poncho or blanket on them
  • Always clean all the snow off your car
  • Before a long car trip check the fit of your car seats.  Check out should you need help.
  • Food safety, always was your produce.  Cook your meat to proper temps as well.
  • Keep cold foods out for only 2 hours at room temp and then put them back.
  • Watch the products you use in your home make them as toxin free as you can.  If not please don't mix them.
  • Watch for little pieces from gifts and decorations with little ones around remember not all homes you will visit are child proof.
  • Check all your decorations for safety.  Frayed and cracked lights need to be replaces an don't plug more than three strands together at a time.
  • Watch over loading circuits.
  • Use out lights only outside.
Well I know I missed tons of tips but this is what I have for now.  Please post below any tips you have.  Please have a fun and a safe holiday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Family fun ideas and activites for the long winter break.

Winter break starts at the end of the week for me and I thought it's time to come up with fun things to do.  Winter break is different than summer break for me.  Winter break is more fun than summer break but it's so short.  So I sat and came up with some fun ideas of things to do.  Some can't be done everywhere because where you live but I am sure there is enough here to keep you busy or inspire you as well.  Please share your ideas.   Some of these ideas are meant to reduce the time if front of the screen too.

  • Up first is one of our favorite things, we do this year round it's family game night.  Now we don't have many board games and it's hard to find one that everyone can play but we have fun.  We also play a lot of card games my 6 yo is learn rummy.  It's such fun.  Lately we put on Christmas Carols and find we can play for hours before we know how much time has passed.  We are going to do this on new years with finger foods to snack on during the day!

  • Next is one that involves screen time but is something we enjoy.  We are a large family of six and we don't get to movies much so we do them at home.  My popcorn is better anyways LOL.  So have a family movie night.  If you watch out you can find a code for a free red box movie rental but this time of the year there are many on tv.  We tend to get new dvds for Christmas too so if that's the case we watch one of them or even an old one.

  • Before Christmas, go caroling I know no one seems to do it much anymore but you can get a few neighbors and print out songs from here and go and have some fun make some peoples days. 

  • I know with the cost of gas these days this is one some people might cut back on.  But take a drive take some or get some hot chocolate and look at Christmas lights.  Nothing I have found gets a child in the mood more than Christmas lights.  Play some carols in the back ground and you have a family fun night without a tv.  Your area might even have a special display.  I know that my area does.  We have nature in lights.

  • I don't know about your children but mine love to cook you can have a pizza party and depending on your skills depends on how much you do.  You can use can biscuits and have your children flatten them and top them as they like with their favorite toppings and bake.  Or you can make the dough together  and then make your pizzas.  You can also buy pre made dough as well.  The options are endless.  And if you want to add reading and writing to the mix, have your child make the shopping list before you go shopping and have them read it to you while in the store.   Don't forget to add a salad and help round out your meal.

  • This is one I plan on doing on Christmas eve and Yule as we watch holiday movies, have a hot chocolate bar.  Before had you can cover spoons  with chocolate and sprinkles or the end of candy canes with chocolate too.  Don't forget the marshmallows which you can buy or make the same with your hot chocolate too.  Get some fun mugs and just have fun.  Oh and don't forget whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

  • You can also make Salt Dough ornaments for your tree and you can do hand prints and foot prints as well.

  • Weather permitting you can talk a walk through nature, there is such beauty this time of year. 

  • Make gifts for your neighbors.  This could be a great thing to get to know them as well.  It doesn't have to be pricey here are some great ideas for something simple.

  • Bake or buy some treats and goodies and drop them off at fire house, police stations and er remember those that are working on Christmas and Christmas Eve.  Please call and check what the rules are before you do this in your area some may not allow this.  But some may and this is a great thing to do with your children.

  • Check out your local library for story hour and maybe even your books stores.

  • Take some toys and books and donate them to the children's ward or hospital.  Again this one may vary based on rules please call ahead of time but think of the children in the hospital for the holidays.

  • This one may lead to a new member of the family but call up one of your local rescues and see what you can do to help from cleaning cages to just walking dogs I am sure they will have something you can do to help them out.  And it's a bonus if you fall in love with one and give them a forever home.  Just please make sure your ready to be that forever home.

  • Make snowman soup, which hot chocolate, marshmallows and what other toppings you like.

  • A good old standby favorite make cookies, (these make great neighbor gifts walmart has tins for about 2-3 bucks each and the dollar store too)

  • Go visiting at a senior center, bring a book and have your child read to the members, bring cookies, sign have fun.  Call visit and see the what the rules are.  I believe you want the Rec. Director when you call.  They can also help you visit those that don't get very many visitors.  I know many seniors would love this and children too. 

  • Puzzles, pick up a few for the holidays and then spend a day as a family putting them together.  It's funny how something so simple can be so much fun.

  • Weather permitting, have a snowball fight or get the neighborhood in on and it and have a block wide snowball fight, then have a hot chocolate bar to warm everyone up afterwards.

  • Weather permitting, have a block wide snowman building contest, or coloring contest something that is fun.  Make the prize something simple.  The stuff to make smores or a tray of cup cakes or cookies.  It's just for fun remember.

  • Now if you can't go out.  It's time to build FORTS and TENTS.  I have yet to meet someone who didn't have fun doing this.

  • You could turn your living room into a drive in make cars out of boxes and have some yummy food and watch a good movie together.  Just a different take on family movie night.

  • Read with your child, have them read to you.  Reading is fun.

  • Plan a trip to the library.

  • Have your children make and then fill out thank you cards.  Or spend the day scrapbooking memories from the holiday or the year leading up to the holiday.

I know it's a long list and I missed some.  Please add yours. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

How to get your children to keep reading and writing over the winter break.

I have fond memories as a child of winter break, from staying up to late to reading good books.  I even practiced writing my name.  I also watched way to much T.V.  but I also spent time with my family.  But I thought I would share some great ways to help your children to keep reading and writing over the break but to make them fun.
  • Have you children make and write thank you cards.  I hate to say but this isn't something that I have done in the past and regret doing.  It wasn't something I was raised to do.  But this year we are starting it.  A few days after Christmas have your children start making thank you cards and help them write out a little note thanking the family member for their gift.  This lets them be creative by making the card, also thoughtful about the person that got them a gift, and it has them work on their writing skills.
  •  Read holiday themed or any book aloud.   Reading out loud to your children is a great thing to do.  Even if you read just one short book to them it will help.  Did you know reading to children is something that less and less people are doing these days?  I don't like to read out loud but it's my goal to do it more.  Also have your child read to you as well.  This will help them with their reading skills and it will make them feel special.
  • Write a winter break journal.  This is something great for those older children, just pick up a simple notebook or a nice special one and suggest that before bed they just write about their day, or their thoughts.  If they are really stuck (this is stolen from my step mom) have them write 5 things that they are grateful for that day.  These can be as big or as little as they want.  This could be fun and really get them thinking.
  •  Have them help with the holiday menu.  My children love to help be it from reading a recipe to me to helping measure out ingredients for recipes.  This also helps with math skills.  Also having them follow the step in order teaches them following directions as well.  It's great how something so simple has baking cookies can be so educational.  You can also have them make menus for the holiday meal let them write out what your having and decorate them.  They can then put them on the holiday table.
  • Have them help with the grocery list.  Before that last big shopping trip to the store for the holidays let your child help with the list.  Have them write out a part of the list for something that they want to make with you.  Like the items for making cookies.  And then make it their job to pick up those items at the store with your help.  This helps them with writing skills and their reading once they are the stop.  This would also be a great time to teach them about reading labels on products as well.
  • Write their own holiday story.  Gather up some supplies to make your own book and have your child write their own holiday story.  This would be a great thing to do year have year and to save them.   And every year they can be one of the holiday stories that your read out loud during the holiday break.
  •  Scrapbooking.  Now this isn't something that I have done in a long time but it is something I found fun.  You can have your children help you scrapbook your Christmas memories.  This lets them be creative and you can encourage them to write the captions on the pages which will work on their writing skill.
  • Take a trip or two to the library.  I know everyone loves the feel a of new book.  I know that I do.  But there is something about a library and a child that is wonderful.  My children love love love the library.  To them it's like going to the store and really we sign out like every book we can and they read at least ten while we are there.  So take your child get them their own card if you can and teach them the love of the library.  Also find out about the library's story hours and holiday break programs.  They may have some that are fun and your child would like to try out.
  • Don't be afraid of tech.  I know that there are children out there that think tech is the coolest thing in the world and the only thing that matters and that reading is boring.  I have a child like this.  I got him to love reading by putting his books on my ereader (I have a sony so pdf files work great for this).  I am also using it as a teaching tool.  There are many of the classics out there free like Alice in Wonderland, Robin Hood, White Fang and many more.  Also many of the bi g stores and ereader companies have software you can download on to the computer to read ebooks. Here is Nook for the PC, Kindle for PC, and Sony.  Some free classics to get you going. Free from Kindle, Nook, and Sony.  Other than a quick glance I didn't see tons for kinds but you can also barrow ebooks from the library so please look into that but this is a great start with the classics and some books for those older children in your home.  And some fun for yourself as well.
Now I am sure there are other ideas out there that I forgot.   I hope that this is a great jumping off point for you.  Reading is such a great thing and books are a great adventure parents and children alike.  I hope you have a great holiday season and winter break.